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HP found to be wrong and loses 123Inkt appeal

December 20, 2019

HP loses the lawsuit of Stichting 123inkt private label customers on appeal as the Amsterdam Court of Appeal ruled that HP is liable for the firmware damage suffered by participants of Stichting 123inkt private label customers.

On the 17 December, the court ruled that HP acted unlawfully due to incorrect and inadequate information about the cause and solution of a blockade [firmware update] of private label cartridges implemented by HP worldwide in September 2016. The Amsterdam Court of Appeal ruled that HP is liable for the damage suffered by participants of Stichting 123inkt private label customers.

In September HP 2016, HP issued a firmware update that resulted in 123inkt.nl receiving a large volume of complaints about the 123 house brand that was no longer functioning in various HP printers. Users received an error message: “Problem with cartridge. One or more cartridges appear to be damaged. Remove the cartridges and replace them with new cartridges”. However, there was nothing at all wrong with the 123inkt.nl private label cartridges.

The problem was identified as the recent firmware update of the printers. The pre-programmed firmware ensured that the chip could no longer be read on private label cartridges, so that they no longer functioned. Customers with private label cartridges were therefore duped.

In response, the 123inkt private label customers foundation was established on 29 September 2016. This foundation wants to prevent similar problems in the future. In addition, the Foundation is committed to compensating any damage caused by the actions of HP for its participants.

In November 2016 the 123inkt private label customers’ foundation issued legal proceedings against HP and in 2017 the Amsterdam District Court for the Foundation found in favour of HP, and the Foundation appealed that decision. The Amsterdam Court of Appeal ruled on that appeal on 17 December 2019. The court of appeal stated that “HP has acted unlawfully” and is liable for the damage suffered by the participants of the Foundation. The extent of that damage still needs to be determined.

123inkt.nl is considering further legal steps to obtain a ban on the (temporary) blocking of non-original cartridges by HP, so that HP cannot create a monopoly in this way.

It is not the first time that the online store wins a legal battle from HP. The web store would use cartridge chips that were very similar to those of HP, the printer manufacturer claimed. Earlier this year, however, the Supreme Court declared HP’s patent on those printer cartridge chips invalid.

Since the end of 2016, HP printers have had a sticker stating that cartridges without an HP chip might not work. According to the sticker, such cartridges can also work today, but may no longer work in the future. Earlier this year, HP released a firmware update for Officejet printers that also blocked the use of private label cartridges.

The printer manufacturer indicated in April this year to develop new technologies that can block private label cartridges at cheaper printers. At the same time, the company wants to release more expensive printers that are compatible with the cheaper cartridges.

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